Korean American Kyung Cho and his wife Gillian are confronting financial problems. Their house is saddled with a mortgage they no longer can afford despite Kyung’s university professor position. This situation is only made worse when Kyung’s parents barely survive a brutal home invasion. Jin and Mae are forced to move in with Kyung’s family and the memories of Kyung’s unhappy childhood, including the fear and violence he experienced, are revived. Jung Yun is remarkably skilled at creating a tension filled family drama with a surprising ending. At the same time, she pulls back the curtain revealing the impacts of race, class, immigration, and domestic violence in contemporary America
— From Joan's Picks
This compelling debut novel explores the effect of cultural expectations and violence on three generations of a Korean American family in New England. Kyung Cho reluctantly takes his parents in when they are brutally assaulted in their home, but instead of providing a second chance for reconciliation, it drives a bigger wedge between them. As Kyung struggles to keep his family’s financial burdens hidden from his father, he slowly discovers that his mother has been keeping secrets – big secrets – of her own. When the police piece together the final clues to solve the assault, Kyung’s life implodes in ways he never could have predicted. This electrifying storyl is both character-driven and a page turner!— From Emily's Picks
April 2016 Indie Next List
“Shelter is the perfect example of that extraordinary kind of story that careens down a path toward a conclusion that feels somehow both completely surprising and totally inevitable. Kyung Cho is a young father whose anxiety over present financial concerns couples with damage from past traumas to inhabit every breath he takes. His precarious equilibrium is shattered when his parents are the victims of a cruel act of violence and he is called upon to react with a compassion and forgiveness that he may not possess. This novel is a dark and moving portrait of a family and what it ultimately means to love.”
— Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books, Newton, MA
"Shelter is domestic drama at its best, a gripping narrative of secrets and revelations that seized me from beginning to end."--Viet Thanh Nguyen, Pulitzer Prize-Winning author of The Sympathizer
One of The Millions' Most Anticipated Books of the Year (Selected by Edan Lepucki)
Now BuzzFeed's #1 Most Buzzed About Book of the Year
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
Named a Best Literary Debut of the Year by Buzzfeed and a Best Book of the Year by MPR
Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can't afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family's future.
A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town's most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage--private tutors, expensive hobbies--but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he's compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung's proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?
As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.
About the Author
JUNG YUN was born in South Korea, grew up in North Dakota, and educated at Vassar College, the University of Pennsylvania, and University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Her work has appeared in Tin House (the "Emerging Voices" issue); The Best of Tin House: Stories, edited by Dorothy Allison; and The Massachusetts Review; and she is the recipient of two Artist Fellowships in fiction from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and an honorable mention for the Pushcart Prize. Currently, she lives in Baltimore with her husband and serves as an Assistant Professor of English at the George Washington University.